french patio doors: swing in or out?

kateskourosMarch 16, 2009

would you have french double doors swing in or out for a step down patio? architect spec'd for out swing, but i'm not sure i like that...

the room is 13.5' x 13.5'. i'm having a hutch built on one wall which will be 7' wide and 24" deep which cuts down space on one end to 11'5".

i'd like a generous sized round table (to seat 4-6, opening up to seat 8). haven't found any tables yet, so can't be sure of the dimensions but i have come across one which is 54". give or take, would three feet be enough room to have the doors function without banging into anything? or, what size table should i look for?

thanks in advance.

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I thought all exterior doors were supposed to swing inward??? plus with it being a step-down, you might be more challenged to stop the door from banging into the outside walls.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 4:44PM
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We have both. All our porches, patios and piazzas are step downs.

On our screened porch, we chose to have an out swing as it allowed more room in the breakfast room for the table and chairs. The porch area is large so the out swing did not interfere with furniture placement. You can order the doors with secured pin hinges so that the hinges can not be removed.

On our upper piazza, we chose in swing. I love how the doors look completely open from the inside upper foyer.

On the lower back patio, we did in swing.

The deciding factor, either in swing or out swing, was furniture placement.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 7:30PM
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If you choose an in swing, I would go with more than 36 inches of room if each french door is 36 inches wide.
I am so glad I did an out swing for the breakfast room. I could not have fit the table and chairs if I had done an in swing. Our area measures 12 by 17 and includes a walkway.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 7:38PM
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For a step-down patio, I'd definitely go inswing. Outswing would 'clear the decks' of anyone standing there, and depending where you live, the wind would cause a problem each time you opened them. I've never seen outswing doors used in Northern climates; only in hurricane zones or commercial construction (for safety reasons). And those definitely do not have step downs.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 9:09PM
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We have 2 sets of French doors together that lead out from the kitchen to the screened in porch and are in-swings. I don't remember why we chose that but I'm sure it is something that I pondered hard and lost many nights of sleep over.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 9:23PM
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We have had our out swing doors for 4 years and have not had any of the problems mentioned above. We are in the SE so maybe that makes a difference.
We live on a ridge and regularly get gusts of winds at 20 to 30 mph.
If we had done an in swing, it would hit the person sitting at the head of the table.
An out swing door for our breakfast room was one of the best decisions we made.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 10:32PM
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Check your local building codes before making a decision. In-swing is required in my area, for all exterior doors including french styles. Also consider a future possibility of having screen doors added, which are expected to be outswing.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 7:19AM
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I chose out swing for my french doors because of furniture placement. The doors swing into a large sunroom. The sunroom has more spare room than the dining room does, so it was an easy decision for me.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 7:28AM
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If I might ask; are we all talking about the same thing? That is; we're talking about EXTERIOR doors, right? That go outside; not into another room or enclosed area?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 8:12AM
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yes... exterior doors.
i need to find dining tables and make a template with approx size to actually see how much room i have. i'm leaning towards in-swing but need to make sure there's enough space.

how do you make these decisions before furniture is purchased?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 8:47AM
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the doors are 30". round dining table is 54" diameter, leaving 3'5" around.

i don't think we'd need to open the patio doors while seated at the table since we'd either be eating inside or out. would you use the in swing? thanks.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 9:40AM
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Kate...Will you have any other furniture in the room besides the table & chairs? I don't know that it would be much help, but our dining room is 11 1/2' wide and 15' long. We have a 54" round table with seating for 6 and a sideboard. I allowed 54" for the table, 18" for each chair (3' total) and 36" for the aisles around the sides so there is plenty of room to pull the chairs out while they're in use. Will you be using the doors daily? I think you should comfortably have room for inswings if they're used infrequently, but I'd probably opt for outswing if they'll be used often.

Here's a pic. The room dimensions are similar, so hopefully it can give you an idea of what a 54" table would like like in your room. Pretend the windows are french doors. LOL There is a 48" walkway between the windows & the backs of the chairs. Remember though that our room is about 1 1/2' longer though! I still have to find a rug & finish the panels for the windows. No laughing! :o)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 9:42AM
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my french doors are exterior doors. They do go into another room, but it's an unheated sunroom...really no different from a porch.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 9:56AM
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Well, why not use double french-style sliders? The usual complaint with sliders is that only half the window area is available for passage, but if you double [slide one to left and the other to right, then available width isn't an issue. I've seen french-style sliders that looked like, well, french-style doors... until they were slid open. They were interior, with top-only tracks, so keeping tracks clean wasn't a problem.

That eliminates the whole in-swing, out-swing discussion.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 11:10AM
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architect says swing in. thank God that's over.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 1:33PM
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Ron Natalie

We have some swinging in and some swinging out as well. You just have to look at the situation (what's going on inside and out nearby) to make the decision.

There's no code nor convention on these things. In the US the front door typically swings in, that's just tradition. No reason for it really, many European doors swing out.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 2:51PM
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Actually, in the USA many areas DO have codes which specify direction of swing for all exterior doors.

As to why the exterior doors should swing *out*, I've never found a truly satisfactory answer although one that sounded good was from folks in Northern states who explained that it was so one could open the door no matter how much snow was piled against it. IMO, it's more likely to be the same reason that lamp cord plugs have two prongs.... for consistency, not logic.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 7:44AM
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Ron Natalie

Lamp cords have two prongs because the electricity has to form a loop.

There are compelling reasons for making the doors swing both ways.
Of course you are subject to the local codes (and with exterior things, often ordinances).

In NC, which is pretty much a straight version of the International Residential Code there is no general requirement for door swings. However there are some special cases. If the door swings out, it can't swing out out over more than a 7 1/2" step. That means if you have steps immediately outside your door, you probably have to have it swing in.

Screens can be fitted to either swing, though on inward swinging doors you may have to be clever ("window shade" style screens) if you don't want to look at them inside.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 9:06AM
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Sorry, ronnatalie ~ I suppose I was thinking of American vs international plugs, which have (in assorted configurations) fat or slim round prongs or flat prongs or prongs of differing widths and in different combinations of round and/or flat, with 2 or 3 or 4 prongs per plug, set parallel or angled, centrally or off-center... and on and on.

As long as the plug's prongs properly fit the outlet they were designed to fit in order to transmit the electricity for which they were designed, there really isn't any practical reason for using any one combination of prongs rather than another. No matter all the different appearances: each conducts the electricity to the appliance. The only consistency is that various countries have a preferred design. The preferred design is the local convention, and the convention is not due to practicality or a requirement of electrical transmission, but simply because sometime somewhere someone decided that only a particular design was to be used. Consistency does not have to have a practical or logical reason for existence; it simply has to be accepted by enough people for it to seem reasonable to be accepted.

So whether it's about two-pronged plugs or in-swinging exterior doors, local convention rules local usage.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:29PM
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I believe commercial doors have to swing out, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency, people won't be piled up at the door making it hard to open it inward. I've always wondered why residential doors rarely swing out. I'm planning french doors to open on to a screened porch, and I'll have them swing out, but they'll be out of the weather. Otherwise, I'd have them swing in, so if they're open and it starts raining, they won't get wet.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:41AM
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From experience, patio doors, unless recessed in a wall or are under a roof structure should swing out for weather tightness and longevity. I had a pair of in-swing french doors installed and they didn't last two years before the threshold and jambs started rotting.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 9:13PM
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